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Upgrading Your Ride

Community  /   /  By Chester Allen

Wanting to improve what you have is a human trait — even if you just bought that new or old car.

I first noticed this way back in 1977, when I was 16 and drove my rebuilt 1965 Mustang on the road to my high school. I was pretty stoked with the black-on- black car that first entered my life during a visit to a Southern California junkyard.

But, when I pulled into the parking lot — and blew my first attempt at hopping the rear wheels off a speed bump — I saw my car couldn’t compete with the other cars rumbling around.

First off, I needed to make more noise, so I vowed to install an exhaust header system with bigger pipes.
Second, I just had the stock AM radio, while the cooler guys had top-of-the-line cassette tape decks.

Finally, my car’s rear end wasn’t jacked up.

I knew my car would never blow the doors off the hot-rodded Chevelles and Mopar monsters, but I needed to up my game. I did get the headers, some Cragar wheels and a tape deck, but I never got around to pushing up the rear end.

All this happened 35 years ago, but people still want to upgrade their cars — often just days after driving a new car off the dealer lot.

Colin Comer, who writes for Sports Car Market and American Car Collector — and is the author of “Million Dollar Muscle Cars,” “The Complete Book of Shelby Automobiles: Cobras, Mustangs and Super Snakes,” and “Shelby Cobra Fifty Years” — talks about how many muscle car owners in the 1960s and 1970s upgraded their cars — to the point where it’s kind of weird to find a muscle car that didn’t undergo changes back in the day.

Nowadays, upgrading is part of the deal for almost all car buyers. Even truck buyers are quick to install custom wheels, and the wheels and tires from the factory — often with less than 100 miles of wear — show up on eBay, like this OEM Chevy Silverado 17-inch wheel. It’s a good bet that the owner of those almost-new wheels and tires pulled them off to install something like this 20-inch Chrome Gunner 6 wheel.

Is it crazy to pull off perfectly good tires and wheels just so you can install custom wheels and cooler tires? Sure it is — if it makes you happy.

Upgrading happens with engines, suspensions, exhaust systems, paint jobs, lights, and interiors — just about anything that’s on a car.

So, how have you upgraded your car or truck — and why?

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  1. Anne O'Connor October 25, 2012 at 11:12 pm Reply

    My 1963 Chevy Impala SS convertible (I’m the orig. owner and bought it when I was single) was recently restored. When I bought it, I lived in NY and didn’t need A/C. I’m now retired in Jupiter, FL and of course need it. Back in the day, power brakes was a new option that I didn’t choose so I changed them out from manual. It needed a new paint job and top. The car has only 52,050 original miles on it and it’s numbers matching. I lived and worked in the City and used mostly public transportation so it was driven only for pleasure trips and church. Body and chrome are original and thankfully, it was never in a moving accident. It did get a few dings in parking lots but nothing serious and they were repaired or touched up. I kept the car garaged for the most part after I married in ’66 since my husband didn’t like driving convertibles. We drove a family station wagon after we had children. Over the years, he wanted me to sell it but I said I wouldn’t sell one of my children and I’m not selling this car. 🙂 I
    meticulously cared for it. I like to refer to it as “The Jewel of Jupiter.”

  2. Derek Mau October 25, 2012 at 11:24 pm Reply

    Wow! Great story, Anne. We’d luv to see pictures of “The Jewel of Jupiter”

  3. Anne O'Connor October 26, 2012 at 8:27 am Reply

    Derek, there are photos on my FB page…not tech savvy enough as to how to show them here. I’m using an iPad; I’ll try from my computer.

    • Derek Mau October 26, 2012 at 2:05 pm Reply

      No worries, Anne. Sometimes pasting the URL to the photo works, but it may dependent upon the permissions you set within your FB profile.

  4. Anne O'Connor October 27, 2012 at 4:45 pm Reply

    Sorry – I couldn’t work it out.

  5. Chester Allen November 1, 2012 at 12:02 pm Reply

    Your story is just terrific! It’s entirely possible to fall in love with a car, and it’s a good thing that it’s easier to improve a car than a spouse!


    • Ronald Hirsch September 30, 2013 at 11:43 pm Reply

      Very much like your 1966 mblack Mustang.
      Was hoping that you might want to sell it.
      Please let me know eiterh way. Best way to get in touch with me is via my e mail
      My phone number is 808-250-9358

      Looking forward to hearing from you.


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